I am alone, not lonely: an introvert’s explanation

I am an introvert.

To be specific, I am an INTJ when it comes to the Meyers Brigg’s exam—introversion, intuition, thinking, judgment. I like to be alone, analyze, and make quick decisions.

My biggest problem is most people don’t know I am an introvert. I am social and rather outgoing so people often mistakenly think that I am an extrovert. I definitely play an extrovert on the Internet. I love using Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram to share thoughts and ideas. However, online is different than offline. Online I can control how much I interact and engage with it. Offline, I cannot.

The truth is I find people (especially extroverts) extremely draining. When most people hear this, they get offended, but it is not what they think. What I mean is that being around people really drains my energy. Extroverts, on the other hand, seem to gain energy by being around people.

For me, something like a party is extremely exhausting to me. How can people enjoy just sitting there and talking? There is SO much talking. I enjoy conversations and discussions, but I hate talking. I really dislike having to force myself to “meet people” where I would rather just welcome people being introduced in my life through my own shenanigans.

I always say, “I hate people, but I love persons.” If there is more than three people in a group hanging out with me, I can feel myself get physically tired. When I go to San Francisco or Seattle to visit, I seem to have to take about 4-5 days in isolation to recover from it.

An atypical example of introvert and extrovert is me and my co-founder Adam. I am really outgoing, do a lot of the business development and meet new people. Adam is shy and quiet, but he enjoys being around the company of people, whether it is co-working or hanging out. For me however, being in exile for two years seems like a vacation. People always think that I’m the extrovert and he is the introvert.

It has been a bit challenging for me because I have a lot of friends who I know care about me, and I care about them. However, I do not have enough time to hang out with all of them. When I hang out with them, it physically drains energy (even when it is fun and I have a good time) and then I have nothing left to work on my designs, drawings, or reading.

The other problem is because of my social nature and that I am good with people, others are often drawn towards me to make the connections for them. I feel I attract a lot of people who fall in-between introvert and extrovert.

To be honest, I think that’s the reason I have a cat. I want a pet who I care about and can love, but we can leave each other alone as well.

I really enjoy being alone. I rarely get lonely. The idea of going to a movie by myself, traveling alone, or just having no plans makes people think I am depressed or that something is wrong. However, that’s how I recover.

If I spent all my time meeting up with people to renew their energy, I would have no energy left to focus on what I love: design.

Please understand, if you are my friend, that if I ignore you it isn’t a negative thing. If I did not want to be your friend, oh trust me, I will tell you. However, there is only so much time in a day (and in life) and I just need to focus.

A Tale of Two Phones

I have a second phone (with a different number via pay-as-you-go sim card) that is my weekend phone. It only has personal email and apps that empower me to create (such as Tumblr) vs. consumption…basically anything with a feed.

In addition, I use two email desktop clients: Sparrow, which includes all email and includes work, then Airmail, which I only have personal email added to encourage me to write to friends. For me, I need that sort of separation to keep me sane moderately disconnected.

I’ve found this the best way for me to separate work from rest.

We live in a world where young men and women are so comfortable online that they are completely detached from the real world. You have people who will flirt and say things they would never say in real life. Hell, they will even send naked photos of themselves. But when it comes to talking to a human being they are the most awkward people ever. This is very dangerous when people don’t know how to interact with others.

My generation is the last to know what it is to grow up without the Internet. We knew analog and grew up with digital. I hope those my age don’t forget the value of being able to talk to a stranger in real life, calling someone on the phone to order a pizza, or ask someone out without online dating.

They just announced a delay on our flight due to maintenance issues and people got upset.

Uh, would they rather fly with those issues? People are so dumb sometimes and will really find something to complain about.

For me, there is something really attractive about a girl riding a bicycle. I do not mean this in the sense of any euphemism, but just…the sense of freedom. She goes wherever she desires and has the ability to change direction pretty rapidly. There is such a sense of energy that I find really inspiring.

One of my best friends got engaged tonight. I am so happy for him. I used to get sad when friends would find love and get engaged, and I would continue to search, but now, I’m okay with it.

All smiles.

Accepting Death To Live

Had a good conversation with a friend about the plane crash at SFO. He asked me if I am scared to travel after that. I said, “No. If I’m on a plane that crashes, then there is a good chance I will die, and that’s it.” He looked at me puzzled.

This sort of mentality is how I was raised. I remember as a little kid, asking my mom what she would do if Mt. St. Helens erupted again. We grew up near the volcano and my parents immigrated here soon after it erupted in 1980. She simply said, “Well then, we die, and that’s it.”

When you accept that death is a part of life, you will live freely and worry less. It is going to happen, and you don’t know when. The fact that I realize I could die at any point in time without knowing has made me value every moment of life I have now.

Don’t stop flying because a plane crashed.

Don’t stop yourself from traveling somewhere because you heard “it’s dangerous”.

Don’t stop going to coffee shops or movies because there was a shooting.

Don’t stop running marathons because there was a bombing.

You’re going to die. Accept it and start living your life.

Accepting Death To Live was originally published on Flexible Reality